These summaries were prepared by McGuireWoods LLP lawyer Thomas E. Spahn. They are based on the letter opinions issued by the Virginia State Bar. Any editorial comments reflect Mr. Spahn's current personal views, and not the opinions of the Virginia State Bar, McGuireWoods or its clients. 
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LEO NumTopicsSummary

25-Dealing with Unrepresented People

27-Litigation Tactics (Including Misrepresentations, Tape Recordings)

48-Criminal Defense Lawyers

51-Government Attorneys

ABA LEO 486 (5/9/19) (Because under the ABA Model Rules a prosecutor must be a “minister of justice and not simply . . . an advocate,” prosecutors have several ethical obligations when negotiating misdemeanor plea bargains with unrepresented defendants (criticizing some jurisdictions for negotiation methods “inconsistent with the duties set forth in the Rules of Professional Conduct”). Prosecutors must comply with various ABA Model Rule 3.8 duties, which sometimes “exceed the requirements of statutory and constitutional law.” Among other things, prosecutors: “may not negotiate pleas without first making an independent assessment of the relevant facts and law for each charge”; must take reasonable steps to assure that the accuseds have the right to counsel (noting that a prosecutor “may not make a plea offer or seek a waiver of the right to counsel before complying with Rule 3.8(b)”); must avoid accuseds' waiver of their important pretrial rights (explaining that it is improper for prosecutors to ask unrepresented accuseds if they wish to waive right to counsel or accept a plea “if it is clear from the circumstances that the accused does not understand the consequences of acceding to the request”). Prosecutors also have duties under ABA Model Rules 4.1 and 4.3; explaining among other things that “if the prosecutor knows the consequence of a plea – either generic consequences or consequences that are particular to the accused – the prosecutor must disclose them during the plea negotiation.”)

Copyright 2000, Thomas E. Spahn